Each month we highlight a certain item in Profoto’s rich assortment of Light Shaping Tools (previous articles can be found here). This month we talk to Turkish portrait photographer Maneki Neko about the new RFi Speedlight Speedring.
As you might know, Maneki Neko is the name of the Japanese figurine cat that is said to bring good luck to its owner. But luck had nothing to do with it when we decided to send our new RFi Speedlight Speedring to the Turkish portrait photographer with the same name. We simply loved Maneki’s work and were curious to see what he would create with this new tool.
“I wanted to take this opportunity to not only show something from myself but also from the beautiful city of Istanbul where I live,” says Maneki. “In addition, I wanted to show the portability of the product, so shooting outdoors on the streets of Istanbul seemed like the perfect thing to do!”
The RFi Speedlight Speedring that Maneki used does not require much explanation. It is a speedring that allows you to use any Profoto’s RFi softbox with speedlights of most brands – it is as simple as that. You can attach one or two speedlights to the bracket, and each speedlight can slide and be tilted inside the softbox. The entire softbox can also be tilted, rotated 360° and adjusted high wise.
For this particular shoot, Maneki worked with the Softbox RFi 3’ Octa, which was equipped with a 50° Softgrid. The octa was, of course, mounted on the RFi Speedlight Speedring together with two speedlights, each of which were angled towards the side of the softbox to get a soft and even light with no hotspot.
This was the first time that you used the RFi Speedlight Speedring, Maneki. What did you think of it?
“I think it’s really well done. It’s very convenient to be able to use all my RFi softboxes with my Profoto heads as well as with my speedlights. I also like the fact that you can attach not only one but two speedlights. This is really useful if you need more power or faster recycling speed. Also, the fact that you can turn the speedlights to the sides of the box really helps in creating a nice soft and even light on the model.
What was it like actually using the gear – carrying it, mounting it, shaping the light, etcetera?
“Mounting the RFi Speedlight Speedring and the RFi Softbox was easy. The color-codes on the speedring help a lot. Perhaps not so much when using the octa I had, as you need all the rods for that one. But the color-codes were a great help when I tried using use one of my other RFi softboxes, such as the Softbox RFi 1×4’. I have to say, the whole system is actually one of the sturdiest systems I’ve ever used. It feels safe. You can really feel the quality of the product you are using.”
What about the octagonal softbox? How come you choose to work with that particular one?
“I generally prefer octagonal softboxes over the classic shapes. I think the octas create a much more organic feel, especially if you look at the catchlight in the model’s eyes. The circular shape just feels so much more natural to me than a rectangular or a square one. I also prefer the 3-foot octa over the 5-foot. The 3-foot is big enough to light the model completely but still very portable. I think it would‘ve been more difficult to transport a larger sized softbox on streets of Istanbul…”
Last but not least, how would you describe the light that the setup you brought created?
“First of all, it’s very soft and even. It doesn’t separate the model too much from the background, so you can actually get a really nice, close to natural look on the model. Speedlights are obviously very small light sources. For this reason, they give you a hard and unflattering light. A smaller light source equals a harder light, that’s the basic principle. But when you add a softbox to the equation, the light source gets much larger and the light gets softer. To be honest, I didn’t expect to get such a beautiful light with only speedlights, but these tools really helped me get exactly what I needed: a soft, even and dramatic light that tells a story.”
See more of Maneki’s work at his website.
Hear more of Konrad Z’s music here.